Applied DNA Sciences (ADNAS) has launched DNA authentication technology that identifies different cotton species – meaning consumer brands will be able to determine the amounts of inappropriate blends in their cotton, not just the presence of inferior blends. 

"This is a significant milestone in cotton "quantitation" using an enhanced DNA authentication technology for FibreTyping cotton textiles," the company says. 

The technology applies to premium extra long staple (ELS) cottons that have been blended with shorter staple cotton, and labelled as 100% Pima, or 100% Egyptian ELS. 

"Simply put, it's about honest cotton," explains Dr Michael Hogan, vice president of life sciences at ADNAS. "Consumers want to buy products from retailers and brands they trust. Our brand partners can be confident the products they source from suppliers contain truthful materials. 

"With our quantitative DNA testing, we will help keep cotton growing, moving and connecting with consumers around the globe not only in the US, but also in Australia, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Peru and Turkey." 

Historically, the goal of select processors of premium cotton fibres such as Egyptian ELS or American Pima was to buy the highest quality cotton at the lowest price, attempting to meet product specifications by blending bales with different fibre qualities and types. 

However, blending of premium extra long staple cotton with shorter staple non-ELS upland cotton occurs when brands search for higher profit margins and there is a lack of available high quality extra long staple fibre. This blending of different fibre types results in impure products being labelled and sold as 100% ELS cotton, violating US and international laws. 

APDN adds that the disclosure of fibre content is integral to trade in textiles and apparel; it is incumbent upon the manufacturer to know, and to correctly report, fibre content in both documentation and on product labels. 

"This is a critical tipping point," said MeiLin Wan, vice president of textile sales at ADNAS. "It is important to provide quantitative results for cotton yarns and fabrics, specifically for greige (gray and beige) yarn and fabric."

ADNAS has been working for the past eight years on DNA-based supply chain, anti-counterfeiting, anti-theft technology product genotyping and product authentication solutions.